As parents, it is our jobs to get kids excited to read. But with so many toys (and apps!) to distract them nowadays, such a task can prove to be difficult.
Today I have an app that hopefully will help you engage your little readers: Jörgits & the End of Winter. An original children’s novel by Tank & Bear, it comprises 160 pages interspersed with interactive musical scenes, whimsical diagrams, and animated videos.
Jörgits & the End of Winter is an interactive children’s novel that introduces kids to environmental and social issues.
The End of Winter
The stars of the novel is the Jörgits, a group of furry aliens whose home planet, Jöerg, is growing too cold for them. So they embark on quest to a nearby star which is rapidly heating up — Earth — and set out for the Hawaiian islands. Unfortunately there is a problem on the way, and their ship crash land into a sea just outside of Helsinki in the middle of winter.
Disappointed that Earth is just as cold as back home, the aliens soon find a new purpose when they hear a distress signal from an Elder Jörg, who supposedly have vanished a long time ago. They trace the signal back to an apartment in the city, which belongs to a geeky engineer/musician named Joonas and his spunky daughter Jenny.
After a brief and chaotic first encounter, both parties befriend each other. The humans welcome the aliens in their home, and Joonas even help their interstellar guests investigate the curious distress signal. The Jörgits learn more about the humans’ way of living, and eventually discover the actual reason behind planet’s increasing temperature, which is not exactly what they think.
Unlike most book apps that we have reviewed before, Jörgits and the End of Winter is an actual novel. This means that the app consists mostly of text, but with lovely illustrations and animated videos interspersed to keep readers engaged. There are also are beautiful soundscapes that let you create tunes by tapping on the objects on screen, and five hidden secrets that unlock an additional scene if all of them are found.
Another feature that I found interesting is the existence of footnotes throughout the story. These are sometimes informative, but mostly they are just silly notes that keep readers from being too tense.
At any point of the story, you can bring up the page navigator that lets you jump to any page you like. You can also take a look at interactive maps and character sheets to keep you informed.
Parents Need to Know
The Jörgits is the brainchild of Anders Sandell, a Finnish illustrator/toy designer based in Bangalore. The story takes its cues from Scandinavian children’s classics like Moomin Trolls and Pippi Longstocking, and features a whimsical mixture between fantasy and reality.
The story introduces environmental concerns and what causes global warming for kids. The author also makes witty and humorous cultural commentaries through the aliens’ perspectives, such as the Finns’ excessive love for coffee.
It is worth noting that as this is a tale of adventure, some scenes may depict fighting. There are also some parts that deal with bullying, panic attacks, and faceless villains reigning in terror, but all in all there is nothing too intense or too graphic for its targeted age range of nine and up.
As the story is released as a series, we are likely to see more Jörgits apps in the future. The End of Winter is the first instalment, and at the end of the story it is hinted that the Jörgits will continue their adventure in India.
Interspersed between the pages are interactive soundscapes, animated videos, along with whimsical diagrams and maps.
Things I Like
Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t review this app sooner. Jörgits and the End of Winter is a great app, one that is very thoughtfully-designed and well-polished.
First of all, the app is aesthetically pleasing. Facing a block of text can be daunting, so how a page is laid out is important. I like that the app provides interactive illustrations in every few pages, which makes the reading experience more engaging. The text is also clearly readable, and that you can navigate through the pages easily.
The original illustrations are beautiful, as well as the interactive maps and animated videos. My favorite interactive feature is definitely the soundscapes, which provide the loveliest original soundtracks.
In terms of storytelling, I think the author makes a commendable effort. The plot is intriguing and the characters unique. What I like best is that there is enough humor and silliness to go around, but at the same time there is an underlaying darkness that keeps the story meaningful.
There are several points in the story where I had to stop and think because the topic being addressed is quite deep. One passage that really stuck with me is this:
Jenny had once asked Joonas why people did bad things to other people. Joonas told her then that one of the worst things you could do was to show another being you were afraid of them. That made them feel ashamed, for why else would you be afraid unless you thought they were something ugly, something to be afraid of? That’s when bad things happened, when people got hurt.
This is not a bad thing, though. In fact, I am happy to know that the app provides kids with a substantial reading material that provokes them to explore, to question, and to think.
The app also includes character sheets.
Jörgits and the End of Winter is a wonderful, interactive children’s novel that I would highly recommend. More than just a leisurely read, it raises the reader’s awareness of the issues happening around them and provokes them to think. On the other hand, it also provides a great level of interactivity to keep them engaged. It is perfect for independent readers ages nine and up.
Jörgits and the End of Winter is available for iPad
Get it on the App Store: iPad
App was provided for our honest review.
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